A potent East Carolina University (ECU) Pirates team came to Schroeder Park Friday night to face the Houston Cougars . . . The Pirates were sporting a 22-6 overall record and a 6-0 conference record, along with conference leaders in various catergories, and a pitcher who threw a perfect game earlier this season . . . Oh, and they had won ten games in a row.
Friday’s starting pitcher for the Pirates was Jake Agnos who has many credits to his name, including conference leader in strikeouts . . . Agnos was mixing speeds well, but his command was off and the Cougars batters demonstrated some incredible patience, especially on some mid-seventies breaking balls, many of them well off the plate.
The Cougars got on the scoreboard first with a run in the bottom of the first inning when a Rey Fuentes ground ball to second resulted in a throwing error by second baseman Brady Lloyd and allowed Jared Triolo to score from third.
Jared Triolo hit a one out homerun to left-center in the third inning to put the Cougars up 2-0.
Rey Fuentes made an outstanding defensive play to end the fourth when he went diving head first into foul territory down the left field line on a high fly ball by right fielder Alec Burleson . . . The ball kept drifting away from fair territory and toward the Cougars bullpen . . . Rey went diving, caught the ball, with his hair falling all over the place as he lost his cap, he fired the ball to Jared Triolo who then relayed the ball to second to get the runner who had been on second and was moving toward third on the fly ball . . . It was an amazing play by Fuentes.
Kyle Lovelace also deserves an honorable mention for his defensive work . . . Lovelace got two different runners trying to steal, one ended the third inning and on the other the throw was so early that Brad Burckel had to make sure to hold the glove and wait for the runner, rather than attempting to swipe at the sliding runner.
Lockhart held ECU hitless until the fifth, when second baseman Brady Lloyd reached base on an infield single . . . Lockhart was sharp all night, and ECU batters were hitting right into the Cougars defense, this also allowed Lockhart to be very efficient and maintain a low pitch count.
ECU’s Jake Agnos was quite good on Friday as well, just not quite as good as Lockhart. Agnos went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on six hits while also striking out eight . . . Agnos got his pitch count up early and when he exited in the sixth he had thrown 113 pitches.
Alec Burleson came to Houston leading the conference in batting average and went 0-for-4 on the night in the cleanup spot.
With two outs in the eighth, Lael Lockhart gave way to Fred Villarreal for the final out of the inning, which Villarreal got on a ground ball to Kobe Hyland . . . Fred returned to the mound for the ninth when things got interesting . . . A leadoff double was followed by a groundout that moved the runner to third . . . Then a walk put the possible tying run on first and brought the possible go-ahead run at the plate . . . But Villarreal continued to work and throw strikes, he got catcher Jake Washer to strikeout swinging before getting a weak grounder back to the mound for the final out to secure the 2-0 shutout.
The win was Lael Lockhart’s second on the year, and the save by Villarreal was his seventh, and the shutout was the first time this season the Pirates were shutout.
The threat of bad weather on Sunday has changed the Saturday schedule . . . The teams will play a double-header at Schroeder Park with the first game starting at 1pm, and the second game beginning about 45 minutes after the first game ends. –